Your Purpose Can Be About Work
A recent article in the New Yorker points to research revealing that long-term health and happiness stem not from indulging in hedonistic pleasures, but rather from living in a way that fulfills our sense of purpose. So isn’t it worth the effort to build a career that helps you achieve that purpose?
You can define your purpose in any way that is meaningful to you: working to solve a fundamental problem that troubles humanity, such as climate change, hunger or human trafficking; dedicating yourself to a socially or ecologically-conscious company; serving others as a doctor, therapist, teacher or parent; accomplishing a stretch goal such as writing a book, designing a building, being an all-star athlete or speaking at TED; or simply exercising your creative, entrepreneurial, interpersonal or financial talents on a daily basis.
The point isn’t that you have to do one particular thing, or even that what you choose to do has to stay the same throughout your life. It’s that when you feel called to a profession, when you’re fulfilled by your job, then you—as well as those around you—experience multiple benefits.
Following your passion motivates you to do your best work, and as a result people who are happy on the job also tend to earn more money . You’re more energized, better able to focus and therefore accomplish tasks more easily. This enables you to build confidence, take on leadership roles, and achieve even more. Not only that, but your bosses and colleagues enjoy being around someone who is enthusiastic and productive, so you have a positive impact on your entire team.
There are also numerous benefits to your physical and mental health. Doing what you love for a living is correlated with reduced stress and anxiety, better social connections and a more pleasant mood. It also keeps you mentally alert, warding off dementia as you age. In fact, recent research suggests that not having a sense of purpose in life can prove just as damaging to your health as smoking or obesity.
Your career is a lifelong journey. Not every job you do will fulfill you 100%. However, if you can begin to find elements of joy and purpose in your day-to-day work, if your job contributes to the feeling that you’re doing something meaningful, then you’ll see what a difference it makes in your life .